All bright inquiries and promising research start somewhere, and the fifth annual interdisciplinary Cal Poly Pomona Student Research, Scholarship & Creative Activities Conference provided the platform for student researchers seeking recognition for their innovative research projects.
Approximayely 85 research projects in total were presented for the conference on Friday.
The conference’s main focus was to foster an open platform tailored for undergraduate and graduate students to showcase the research they have done. It also aimed to be a helpful addition to students’ resumes.
“This is kind of a stepping stone conference,” said Elisa Mitchell, an Office of Undergraduate Research associate and organizer of the RSCA Conference.
Hosted by OUR-CPP, the conference entailed both competitive and non-competitive elements.
Students presented research projects about many topics on the disciplinary spectrum, ranging from biological sciences and engineering to political science and psychology.
Participants who chose to compete conducted either an oral presentation or a performance of their research to a panel of CPP alumni judges at numerous locations in the library and the Bronco Student Center.
The oral presentations and performances were divided into 10 competitive sessions and two non-competitive sessions. The conference announced 10 winners, one winner from each competitive session.
Some that were among the 10 winning projects were a reconstruction of a sea slug genus, an examination of the structure of the brain’s frontal lobe and an assessment of the impact of fact-checking.
The winners were awarded $100 in prize money and nominations to the California State University System-wide Research Competition in April at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
There, they can compete for first and second place for greater cash prizes.
Conference participants who wanted to showcase their projects or research findings non-competitively set up displays of their work or prototypes as part of a poster and creative works showcase in Ursa Major at the BSC.
Everyone was invited to view these projects, and many faculty members and students stopped by to take a glance and ask questions about their work.
Amanda Ng, a third-year microbiology student who took part in the poster and creative works showcase, appreciated the conference for giving students the opportunity to practice presenting scientific research.
“It’s really nice because we have to get used to this,” she said. “We have to get used to talking about our work and knowing our work enough to talk about it.”
Ng also relished the non-competitive element, stating that she preferred talking to people about her work “one-on-one” rather than to a panel of judges.
Samir Wadhwani, a fourth-year electrical engineering student who also participated in the non-competitive showcase, liked that the conference allowed him and his team to “spread the message” about their findings.
He said that the conference allows them to channel more technical information to others in a way that others could understand it.
“It’s cool trying to convey the message to non-engineers,” said Wadhwani.
Only competitive students conducting oral presentations and performances could be given constructive feedback on their research.
According to Mitchell, competitive students also must request feedback to receive it, since feedback must be reviewed and approved by OUR-CPP Director Winny Dong.
“We want to make sure that the students get really good feedback”actual feedback that will help them and encourage them,” said Mitchell.
At the closing ceremony, along with crowning the 10 project winners, Bruce Kennedy of the animal and veterinary sciences department, a 19-year CPP staff member, and Jon Olson of the biological sciences department, a 10-year CPP staff member, were awarded the Distinguished RSCA Staff Award.
The award recognized Kennedy and Olson for enhancing the “learn-by-doing pedagogy,” as stated on the award’s webpage, and their many years of championing research and creative activities on campus for students and faculty.
Keynote speaker Daniel Cua, a biology and biological sciences alumnus and current biomedical researcher, discussed the advancements in the biomedical field over the years, as well as what could be the “next big thing.”
He also expressed his gratitude for his foundation at CPP.
The conference concluded successfully with great turnout, according to Dong during the closing ceremony.
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